One of the more refreshing stories in last year's recruiting wars was that of Roswell (GA) defensive end Emmanuel Awofadeju. At this time a year ago, he carried a near non-existent recruiting profile, with scant interest from Division I-A programs. But he shot up the charts and earned himself a strong national ranking by the end of his senior season, as well as scholarship offers from Stanford, Notre Dame, Virginia, Maryland and Tulane. Awofadeju made a splash at the end of his junior season with a big performance in a playoff contest, but it wasn't until his senior season that the long and lean pass rusher could convert skeptics with his on-field play.
An analogous story may be brewing with Jonesboro (GA) defensive end Darrell Robertson, who presents an eerily similar build at 6'5" and 215 pounds today. Like Awofadeju, he will raise many an eyebrow with his incredible 4.5 speed off the edge (rumored to be even faster than the Roswell man), but also will raise questions because of his slight frame. But Robertson has built for himself a much more visible recruiting profile at this stage, on the back of a superb junior season in which he totald 74 solo tackles, 45 assists, 12 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 15 pass deflections, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. The Jonesboro junior's success was predicated upon his lightning quick first step and his ability to blow by blockers. But Robertson is well aware of the work yet to be done to reach his goal.
"My goal is to become the best defensive end in the state," he boldly proclaims. "I know that I need to get off run blocks a little faster, and of course get bigger, stronger, faster. I'm eating a lot more proteins right now and lifting weights four or five times each week. I want to get my bench over 300 pounds and my squat to 475. I'd like to gain 5-10 pounds before the start of my senior season."
One activity that has held Robertson back a little bit in this weight-gain goals was a big basketball season in which he played center for the Jonesboro squad that finished second in the state championships. He modestly calls himself a "decent" talent, but put up more than solid numbers with nine points and 12 rebounds per game. "I feel like basketball helps me to develop my footwork and keeps me in shape during the winter," the 6'5" athlete opines. "But I did lose about 10 pounds during the season."
Football is back, though, with Jonesboro's spring practices starting up Monday. Unfortunately, there has been horrible stormy weather in the Southeast the last week, and the proliferation of lightning has forced the team indoors for a pair of light practices thus far. Robertson says he is itching to get outside on the field to start assaulting quarterbacks again. Beyond defensive end, he will also be playing a bigger role on offense this next season as a receiving tight end. Make no mistake, though, this pass rusher prefers defense. "I like defense a lot more because you get to hit people instead of being hit," he plainly states.
But May is more than just a time for practices for this promising prospect; it is also a period when a number of college coaches are coming by to take a good look at this preeminent pass rusher. Robertson says that already this month he has had coaches from Auburn, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Florida, Stanford, Oklahoma and Georgia Tech come by to see him, and Kentucky made the early move in March with a scholarship offer. Stanford's offensive coordinator/receivers coach/associate head coach David Kelly is the man taking the lead on Robertson for the Cardinal, and Kelly came by just last Wednesday to Jonesboro. According to the junior defensive end, communications from Stanford and Georgia Tech have indicated that both are going to offer soon, and it is unsurprising that both are in his top five. In addition to the Wildcats, Cardinal and Jackets, the Jonesboro recruit names Florida and Tennessee as his favorites.
"Stanford would be a great consideration because of their academics," the standout student (3.98 GPA) offers. "Education is the most important thing for me. And distance won't really play a role in where I go. I want to take the full year to decide on my college decision - all the way to Signing Day. I want to consider all of my options."
Stanford surely will be one of those option under serious consideration, and we will keep you updated on this exciting defensive talent all the way through his decision.
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